Operation Bernhard Printing Plate

1942-1945, Germany

The economy became a battlefield in WWII when the Nazis launched Operation Bernhard, the biggest counterfeiting effort in history.

The plan: flood Britain with fake pounds to fuel inflation and destroy its economy. Beginning late 1943, Germany printed nearly one million counterfeit notes per month.

These artifacts of the Nazi counterfeiting effort are incredibly rare. The £10 printing plate is the only one known to have survived, recovered from Austria’s Lake Toplitz years after the Germans sank their printing equipment and remaining notes in 1945. 

The Nazis used forged bills such as this one to pay agents and informants, possibly including those who helped rescue Benito Mussolini after he was kidnapped.